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Zurich High Court sentences young driver for fatal maneuver

Updated at 27 Mar 2024 10:51 am

The Zurich High Court has convicted a young driver who caused a fatal accident in 2017 of involuntary manslaughter. The now almost 26-year-old from Schaffhausen receives a prison sentence of four years and six months.

With its ruling published on Wednesday, the High Court slightly reduced the scaffolder's prison sentence. In the summer of 2021, the District Court of Andelfingen ZH had sentenced him to five years and two months' imprisonment.

In November 2017, the then 19-year-old driver was overtired and drunk on his way home from going out at around 5 am. In the car with him were a friend and two young women. On the A4 near Humlikon ZH, the car came up behind an articulated lorry that was traveling at 80 km/h.

Overtaking via rest area

Because regular overtaking was prohibited there and he did not want to wait, the trained driver overtook the truck via the lay-by. When turning back onto the A4, however, he touched the rear of the truck, swerved into the oncoming lane and collided with a car coming the right way.

The best friend of the accused died, a passenger suffered serious injuries with permanent consequences, three other people were moderately injured, including the young driver himself.

"Intellectually limited"

The public prosecutor had demanded a prison sentence of six years. For him, the defendant's actions were not negligent, but intentional. He had accepted the serious consequences of his "inhuman driving maneuver", said the public prosecutor at last week's trial.

The young man's lawyer, however, described him in court as "intellectually impaired". He had not been able to recognize the connection between his driving manoeuvre and the possible consequences. He was therefore guilty of unconscious negligence.

The young man had already been "punished for life" as a result of the consequences of the accident, so no further sentence should be imposed. However, the high court did not accept the application for exemption from punishment. The ruling can still be appealed to the Federal Supreme Court.


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